Monday, December 28, 2009

Attempted airline bombing: Security Theatre, front and centre

Dear oh dear.  So now, in addition to no liquids (unless you bought them in duty free, of course, which is another whole mess), taking your shoes off, no nail clippers, no wrapped packages, no cutlery, no glass (that soda can makes a nice little knife, though), you have to stay seated with no ipod, laptop, camera, or book for the last hour of the flight. Cue hundreds of bored, irate passengers. It seems that the bad guys will only do their bad guy thing at the end of the flight. Silly terrorists, how predictable - they must be really stumped now !

And eventually, someone's going to get stabbed with a pencil (come on, it's gotta happen sometime) and that's it, no more inflight writing materials. Someone gets angry and throws his iphone at a crewmember? No more cellphones on board. Seriously, the way this is going, within five years there'll be no more carry-on luggage, and we'll all be forced to change into jumpsuits before boarding, handcuffed to our seats from gate to gate.These reactive "security" measures are bordering on absurd.

So what to do?

Here's a radical idea: what about observing passenger behaviour before they get on the plane? Look at El-al: probably the biggest target there is for terrorists , and only one successful hijacking since 1968. Is it magic? Hi-tech wizardry? Nope: it's plain ol' police work and human observation, supported by good training. They have a layered approach to security that starts even before check-in. See here for some of their practices:

So enough with the theatrics already. Put trained observers on the ground both inside and outside the secure area. If this guy Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had undergone any kind of screening at all by competent persons, he'd have been pulled aside for further questions, and unless he's a highly skilled liar, he'd have been detected, or at least prevented from boarding.

Bruce Schneier's been saying this for years:

Posted via web from John's posterous

No comments:

Post a Comment